Winton House in East Lothian is hosting a mammoth Spartan Race this Sunday 21st of September from 10am when it will be welcoming some 2,500 Spartan Warriors. Reebok Spartan Race is the world’s leading obstacle racing series, voted by Outside Magazine as Best Obstacle Race in 2012.
As Spartan Races say: “We will not spell it out for you. You will get no course map to inspect. There is fire, mud, water, barbed wire, and occasionally Hell on Earth. There WILL be obstacles to catch you off guard. Curve balls, so to speak. Get over it.”
Winton House is an exclusive use hospitality venue near Pencaitland in East Lothian, half an hour from Edinburgh, which is popular for many different activities.
The race is named after the fearless Ancient Greek Spartan warriors and has been designed to make athletes find their “inner warrior”. All racers will receive: finishers medal; free Spartan Race T-shirt; scrapes and bruises; stories, stories, and more stories.
An “awe-inspiring” team of three ex-Army amputees who lost legs in Afghanistan will be taking part.
Stevie Richardson, 26, from the local town of Tranent, James Simpson, 28, and Jake Bartlett, 23, will go round the 5km obstacle course event through rolling countryside around Winton House, as the team tackle 15 surprise obstacles.
Mr Bartlett and Mr Richardson, who lost both legs above the knee and suffered hand damage in separate explosions in Helmland, will wear short “stubbie” prosthetic feet for the event. Mr Bartlett lost one leg and badly damaged the other when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan in October 2009. Obstacles will include monkey bars, obstacles to climb over, a mud crawl under barbed wire and a jump through fire.
Dan Tuffnell, director of Spartan Racing UK, watched the veterans go through an impressive training routine ahead of the event. They lifted dead weights, tipped a tractor tyre, did handstand push-ups and worked up a sweat honing their immense upper body strength on the bars at the CrossFit gym in Leeds.
Mr Tuffnell said: “These guys are an absolute inspiration to us all. It’s awe-inspiring for me.
“They are going to smash all the obstacles this year. I have absolute confidence in them.”
Local veteran Mr Richardson, 26, got to know the others at the Headley Court rehabilitation centre in Surrey. He was injured in Afghanistan about six months after Mr Simpson and Mr Bartlett. He said: “We all have some significant injuries but I’m confident between the three of us we can work something out because it’s the sort of the thing we did in the Army a lot and it’s the sort of thing you get used to in everyday life, overcoming obstacles.
“Part of the fun is working it out for ourselves and not needing any help.”
Mr Simpson, who is from Leeds, was so determined to be the first double amputee to complete the Spartan Trifecta Medal – the three races – he travelled to Texas to complete the final event. He is coming back this time for a fresh challenge with the other amputees, having been assisted last year by three or four able-bodied friends.
“Every obstacle is not as simple as it looks,” he said. “The monkey bars – we can’t reach them because we are so small on our stubbies – so the challenge is going to be quite interesting, but I have been through them all before so hopefully I will be able to get all that in practice.”
Mr Bartlett, 23, from Leeds, who is raising money for the Pilgrim Bandits charity which sees ex-Special Forces personnel take injured servicemen on challenges, said: “It’s going to be tough, but if we can’t get around it we will find a way to get over it together.
“We are putting a lot of hard work in.”
Mr Bartlett said he will gain a great sense of achievement by finishing the event – and hoped others will get off the sofa and follow in his muddy footsteps.
“If we can do it, there’s no excuse,” he said.